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Thread: New owner with a questions for a cross country trip

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2020
    Posts
    17

    Default New owner with a questions for a cross country trip

    I just purchased a 1993 Caterham HPC, long chassis, non-SV with the Swindon Vauxhall on Bring a Trailer.

    The car is equipped with dual 45 Webers which I understand are well-tuned currently. The car is at 5,000 feet elevation in Utah and I'm in Atlanta at 1,000 feet.

    I was planning a round the country trip on a motorcycle this year to be taken in stages. I don't really want to ride cross country but I want to ride around out west. The motorcycle was the plan but covid messed that up and now I have a Caterham out west. So the Caterham it is. I'm definitely going to see the sights in Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Whether I ship it back or drive it back afterwards is an open question. I expect I'll drive it at least 2,000 miles and perhaps 4,000 before October.

    I have two questions about an extended trip in the Caterham.

    First, how much difficulty will the Webers create as I move from 5,000 feet to 9,000 feet plus, to sea level. I know they won't like it but will I be able to soldier on? I have zero skills in the carb tuning area and I'm wondering if that's a problem. Once I get the car home, I'll have a Weber expert/sorcerer get it set up for this environment.

    Second, I know I need the top and the doors during a multi-week trip but I plan on using them sparingly. Does the top fold back into the boot like most convertibles if I don't want to use it? Can I fold and stow the doors somewhere in a long-body HPC when I want to take those off?

    Thanks in advance for any input.

    Sander

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    N. California
    Posts
    114

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    Sander,
    I just picked up a 1/2 Hood and would highly recommend it. It's a great compromise between being sunburnt or baked alive.

    As far as the Webers, it's easy to change jets. Once you know what's in the carbs you could purchase jets a bit leaner for the altitude.

    Safety glasses with side shields and ear plugs are nice too.

    Sounds like a fun trip!

    Andy

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Posts
    137

    Default

    Back until the 80's all cars had carbs and drove between low and high altitudes all the time. You won't have a problem.
    1987 Caterham 1700 Supersprint
    2002 Porsche Boxster
    2004 Porsche Boxster S
    1941 Dodge Luxury Liner
    2009 Mercedes CLK 350 Cabriolet
    2017 Chevrolet Volt

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Seattle-ish
    Posts
    1,450

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    I second the half hood and the ear plugs. I've been on a tour with crossflow cars that were tuned for sea level or close to it and we went to 10k feet in that same part of the country. Yes, they ran rich and were pretty stinky, but it was manageable. Given your talking about a much smaller delta, I wouldn't be overly concerned, but if you can acquire some appropriate jets as Andy suggests, that's your best option.

    Some things to consider when touring in a se7en: plan your route to ensure you can make it between gas stations, pack like you are backpacking, bring lots of water -- between sun and wind you will dehydrate -- and bring some tools just in case. Someone with a Caterham can confirm, but I stow the side curtains in the passenger area when I'm solo and behind the passenger seat if that's occupied.

    -John
    '95 Westfield SEiW w/2.0L Duratec
    '68 Lotus Elan FHC
    '91 Miata w/Flyin Miata suspension & brakes
    '95 Porsche 993 C2
    '86 Porsche 944 turbo (neglected project car)
    Throttle Steer

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Albany, NY
    Posts
    347

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    First you're going to decide whether you're going windscreen or aeroscreen. You can't really do both, at least not with ease (one would have to be in the passenger compartment while the other is on).

    The reason why I ask is because it's an entirely different experience from the practicality standpoint depending on which you chose. The top only works with the windshield. Doors only work with the windshield as well. Windscreen and doors make it a much more pleasant experience but they also shelter you from a lot of experience. Being a motorcycle rider I see you're familiar with being out in the open, but the Aeroscreen is that and more.

    I've always ridden with a helmet due to safety and legality. Even when I visited states where I didn't have to wear a helmet, but we do know that it takes away from the experience. Being in a 7 with just the Aeroscreen is what is akin to riding without a helmet but safer for obvious reasons. I love it, especially considering I can't and won't do it on the bike.

    f you chose to go Aeroscreen, especially for a long trip, you're not protected from the elements at all. Lots of sun screen, ear plugs, hat, glasses and you'll still be fatigued by being out in the elements rather quickly. If the water comes you either need to have a back up helmet if you want to keep driving but stay wet or you have to find shelter, where you'll have to apply the tonneau cover (i see that's supplied as well)

    You likely won't have the time to get it but you will find across the board that half hood is one of the most recommended upgrades done to 7's world wide. It's a perfect compromise of weather/sun protection without completely taking you out of the elements.

    I've done many thousands of miles traveling on my bike in the past and haven't done any long term driving with the 7 yet. Longest was driving it down to NJ. In my limited experience it's hard to trust reliability of them especially on older ones. Since I've bought mine years ago I've been chasing small gremlins. A leak here, a stuck throttle there, a lose bolt elsewhere, dead cluster etc. If you owned the car for a while or have a good rapport from previous owner that he's been driving it a lot recently than maybe. I know mine isn't up to the task. It's apart as we speak due to gremlins just from local commuting earlier in the week. Stuck throttle, slight overheating, rough idle etc.


    If you chose to go with the windscreen, then with the doors and the top on, you could actually drive through a snowstorm and not particularly care. It's cumbersome and claustrophobic but it does the job well, it actually makes it a car.
    Last edited by Vovchandr; 06-23-2020 at 05:06 PM.
    2001 Caterham Superlight R

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2020
    Posts
    17

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    Thank you all for the input. One thing I’m still wondering is whether the top just folds back like a standard convertible top? Also where can I get the half top? I’d been thinking that was a must have.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Posts
    17

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    Sander,

    As a veteran of over 30,000 miles in a 1968 Seven S3 which includes border to border and coast to coast, and thousands of miles in Colorado and Utah with the top NEVER on the car, I concur with much of the above and add these thoughts:
    1.) Windscreen and doors make the Seven feel like a motorcycle with a fairing allowing most of the fun with less of the pain. Do wear earplugs as the wind that loops around the doors hits right at your ears and will be irritating at least and uncomfortable most probably.
    2.) Use good two lane roads as much as possible to stay off the Interstate Highways. First, it is much prettier, second it is safer and third it is way more fun than hammering down a four lane with trucks and SUV's towering over you blocking the view of everything.
    3.) Round up the phone numbers and locations of folks on this board to look out for you and to rendezvous with at beerthirty or dinner. I am in Colorado Springs CO and can be reached at 3oh3 8two9 6oh4one. Call or text me and give me your email and I will give you some of the best roads in the west to use in your meander.
    4.) Plan on no more than 400 miles a day and 3-350 is better. A Seven is NOT like a modern car with cruise control and A/C. You will want to stop often and stretch and besides somewhere around 125 miles is a time to refuel as noted above.
    5. Take plenty of photos and notes: I have turned my adventures into two books. They aren't the great American novels but have five star reviews on Amazon and I had a ball writing them and remembering the adventures on my annual rereads.
    6.) Finally, remember the journey is the goal not the destination. You will reach it too soon I wager ;~)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Albany, NY
    Posts
    347

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SanderGA View Post
    Thank you all for the input. One thing I’m still wondering is whether the top just folds back like a standard convertible top? Also where can I get the half top? I’d been thinking that was a must have.
    Never having one but reading a lot about it over the years, yes it should fold up. I believe the skeleton remains folded on top of the rear hoop and the rest goes into the "trunk".

    95% of people hate it, remove it and never use it, 5% swear by it. Take that for what it's worth. It's cumbersome to put up the erector set of the scaffolding for the top.

    Half hood can be purchased through 3 or 4 different avenues. Caterham Parts directly, Softbits for Sevens, Thundersports (supplier for Caterham) and I believe Rocky mountain dealership? might have some in stock. Otherwise you have to wait a while for it to be made and shipped from England.


    Also listen to whatever I B Sevener says, he's got more first hand experience than most I'd say in the states.
    2001 Caterham Superlight R

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Seattle-ish
    Posts
    1,450

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    One advantage of the hood is the ability to close up the car at night to prevent people from trying it on for size in the motel parking lot (yes, it does happen.) When I rebuilt my car down to the frame in 2004, I intentionally didn't install the provisions for the hood despite having a brand new one in the box -- just hated the experience. When touring I use a locking car cover. Something to keep in mind.

    -John
    '95 Westfield SEiW w/2.0L Duratec
    '68 Lotus Elan FHC
    '91 Miata w/Flyin Miata suspension & brakes
    '95 Porsche 993 C2
    '86 Porsche 944 turbo (neglected project car)
    Throttle Steer

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    St. Louis, MO
    Posts
    462

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    The half hood is great, but for that kind of trip I’d recommend both. Driving for an hour, or two, or three in the rain with just a half hood is going to become a wet experience. With the full hood and doors, you stay quite dry (or at least I have), and it’s surprisingly cozy.

    I’ve also parked in an uncovered hotel parking lot when it has rained all night, and was glad I had the full hood.

    And yes, the frame folds down around the opening of the boot, and the top folds up. I have kept my doors in the passenger footwell, and full-hood behind the passenger seat. The half-hood can sit on the boot cover and strap to the roll bar.

    Steve

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